I want to become a Professional Translator - First steps
מפרסם התגובה: Annett Roessner

Annett Roessner  Identity Verified
אוסטרליה
Local time: 10:37
חבר (2017)
מאנגלית לגרמנית
Jul 10, 2014

Hi Everybody

I would like to become a professional translator. I'm a native German speaker and have lived in Australia for the past nine years. So, I would say I have a very good understanding and command of the English language. However, would only consider translating from English into my native language German.

I'm somewhat a bit lost as to where to start from here. I have a really well paid part-time job in the banking industry, so don't need to earn massive amounts
... See more
Hi Everybody

I would like to become a professional translator. I'm a native German speaker and have lived in Australia for the past nine years. So, I would say I have a very good understanding and command of the English language. However, would only consider translating from English into my native language German.

I'm somewhat a bit lost as to where to start from here. I have a really well paid part-time job in the banking industry, so don't need to earn massive amounts of money with translating jobs straight away. I also signed up on freelancer.com.au and odesk.com a few days ago in the hope to land my first translation jobs there. Unfortunately, clients on there don't seem to be willing to pay a decent amount of money for translations and even German natives with positive feedback from previous jobs completed on these sites offer their services for a very low rate, i.e 0.05 USD per word at the most. Now, if I calcuate this into an hourly rate, I would be way better off working extra hours for the bank I work for. It seems even at a low rate like that, I would not have a chance to ever get hired on any of these sites.

I'm really wondering how you guys started to get a foot in the door. Considering I'm not formally accredited/certified, I understand that I can't expect 0.20 USD per word, but less than 0.05 USD??? Some even demanding $5,000 words for less than 50.00USD.

I really want to get started and become a Freelance translator down the track.

Any hints and tips would be highly appreciated.

Cheers

Annett

[Edited at 2014-07-10 08:06 GMT]
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Woodstock  Identity Verified
גרמניה
Local time: 02:37
חבר (2005)
מגרמנית לאנגלית
+ ...
Well, an excellent place to start Jul 10, 2014

would be to practice your research skills, which are extremely important in this profession. There is lots of valuable advice - since requests for beginners' tips turn up here all the time - right on this website, in this very forum. Once you have informed yourself a bit more thoroughly, feel free to come back with more specific questions!

Here's a very useful link to get you started - best to bookmark it and come back to it as you have time - it will take awhile to get through it a
... See more
would be to practice your research skills, which are extremely important in this profession. There is lots of valuable advice - since requests for beginners' tips turn up here all the time - right on this website, in this very forum. Once you have informed yourself a bit more thoroughly, feel free to come back with more specific questions!

Here's a very useful link to get you started - best to bookmark it and come back to it as you have time - it will take awhile to get through it all:

http://www.proz.com/forum/getting_established-15.html

Good luck!
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LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
ארצות הברית
Local time: 20:37
מרוסית לאנגלית
+ ...
Yes, I agree Proz is an excellent place to start Jul 10, 2014

but don't accept any ridiculous rates--below $0.12 for English to German, my guess would be. You have an excellent specialization, assuming that you know a lot about banking in both languages. I think you could also contact some financial institution, especially some German banks in the English-speaking countries--they may also have a lot of freelance work. I think you should perhaps work on branch-specific language (terms--create a glossary), and work on your writing style in the target langua... See more
but don't accept any ridiculous rates--below $0.12 for English to German, my guess would be. You have an excellent specialization, assuming that you know a lot about banking in both languages. I think you could also contact some financial institution, especially some German banks in the English-speaking countries--they may also have a lot of freelance work. I think you should perhaps work on branch-specific language (terms--create a glossary), and work on your writing style in the target language. Good luck.

As to the companies that pay $0.05/word--don't pay any attention to them--everybody is laughing at them. They will have no choice but to get out of the business or raise their rates to look more serious--significantly raise--not $0.01/w.

[Edited at 2014-07-10 10:11 GMT]
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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
ספרד
Local time: 01:37
חבר (2007)
אנגלית
+ ...
Translation is splitting into industry and profession Jul 10, 2014

You just need to make sure you position yourself firmly on the right side of the fence. Those sites you mention are largely a waste of time as they appeal more to amateurs (who may or may not do a good job for their ridiculously small fee) and so-called professionals who will run the text through GT, tidy it a little and get paid what they deserve - peanuts. I've dabbled with quite a few of them over the last few years but only ever got one job that way. They really aren't worth the time and eff... See more
You just need to make sure you position yourself firmly on the right side of the fence. Those sites you mention are largely a waste of time as they appeal more to amateurs (who may or may not do a good job for their ridiculously small fee) and so-called professionals who will run the text through GT, tidy it a little and get paid what they deserve - peanuts. I've dabbled with quite a few of them over the last few years but only ever got one job that way. They really aren't worth the time and effort and can actually be damaging to your online reputation, which is becoming ever-more important.

As Woodstock says, you've found probably the very best place for information, although I'd add the Site Guidance Centre to your reading list, plus the Scam Centre (don't want to be scammed by your first "client", do you?) and the Wiki articles. ProZ.com CAN also be an excellent place to find clients, but I'm afraid you can also waste a lot of time here with those "industry jobs". The trick here is to make yourself visible and attractive to the more discerning outsourcers who will then contact you directly through your profile. Both types of client are here in plenty.

You say you have no training in translation; do you have any real experience? If you have neither then I think it would be a very good idea to do at least a basic online course in translation techniques. There's a bit more to it than just a knowledge of two languages. I evaluated a translation for an agency just yesterday that had been rejected by the client: the "translator" was clearly a native speaker of the target-language, with good writing skills, knew the terminology, and understood the source language; yet the translation was riddled with imperfections and although the information was conveyed, the translated text was clearly not fit for publication. You could do worse than investigate the course I did (you can find its name in the credentials section of my profile - I won't advertise them here).

I'm not being more specific on purpose. As Woodstock says, research is an essential part of a translator's skillset.
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Kirsten Bodart  Identity Verified
הממלכה המאוחדת
Local time: 02:37
מהולנדית לאנגלית
+ ...
freelancer.com Jul 10, 2014

and all other sites of that calibre are not the way to go, but you already know that. I signed on on one of those because I was curious what they were offering. Sadly 0.05USD per word is very good, actually. Usually these jobs go for 0.03 or worse. Absolute disgrace that someone, even an amateur, would want to sell their time for that little. I mean, you take pride in what you do, don't you, even if it's a hobby?

If you have no experience at all, then I would say make the most of wh
... See more
and all other sites of that calibre are not the way to go, but you already know that. I signed on on one of those because I was curious what they were offering. Sadly 0.05USD per word is very good, actually. Usually these jobs go for 0.03 or worse. Absolute disgrace that someone, even an amateur, would want to sell their time for that little. I mean, you take pride in what you do, don't you, even if it's a hobby?

If you have no experience at all, then I would say make the most of what you have done in your life and turn that into strong points.

You haven't got an easy market, though, because most of the translators into German (apart from the real specialists in their field, I suppose) have diplomas in translation. It doesn't make them better than the rest, but German agencies definitely take people with paper to prove their skills more seriously than others.

I would say make the most of what you know, as I said, and maybe make a few sample translations and be critical of your own work, then you should fare well, certainly in the countries where they take people on skill rather than paper. I think for someone who has no experience or diplomas, this is one of the greatest pitfalls: in translation school they teach you how to write, if you do it on your own there is no-one to say something sounds weird or awkward.
And charge about as much as experienced German translators, which is at least 0.10 EUR per word, likely more. Overall anything below 0.09 EUR is dodgy, although there are probably (professional) German translators in other countries who charge this or below even.

Good luck.
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Annett Roessner  Identity Verified
אוסטרליה
Local time: 10:37
חבר (2017)
מאנגלית לגרמנית
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you so much guys Jul 10, 2014

Hi Guys

Thank you so much for all your responses . I really appreciate your feedback and advice.

Sheila, I checked out the course you mentioned and this seems the right fit. I wish they would have an online course like that in Australia, but from what I could gather they only have on-campus courses here, which would be difficult for me due to being a busy mum of a toddler and working part-time. Thank you also for highlighting the difference between being bilingual and a
... See more
Hi Guys

Thank you so much for all your responses . I really appreciate your feedback and advice.

Sheila, I checked out the course you mentioned and this seems the right fit. I wish they would have an online course like that in Australia, but from what I could gather they only have on-campus courses here, which would be difficult for me due to being a busy mum of a toddler and working part-time. Thank you also for highlighting the difference between being bilingual and actually being able to produce meaningful, high quality translations.

Kirsten, here in Australia employers generally want NAATI accredited translators. You can sit a test to get accredited; however, the failure rate is really high and I don't think I would pass at this stage. Nonetheless, I would definitely consider it down the track. I would hope this will alleviate the problem with the missing piece of paper. Totally off topic, I'm really sorry the Dutch soccer team lost today, well probably yesterday in your part of the world. I would have loved to see a German/Dutch World Cup Final.

Thank you all for reassuring me to stay away from these sites, and reiterating not to accept these ridiculous rates . I will probably close down my profile. I'm better off starting working on all the things you guys mentioned, and also go back into immersing myself into my native language. I used to be very good at German in school and need to get back to that level.

Cheers
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deleted. (X)
אוסטרליה
Local time: 21:37
מאנגלית לסינית
+ ...
NAATI accredited translator Jul 11, 2014

Hi Annett, I'm a NAATI accredited professional translator and I was accredited over 10 years ago. From reading your writing, I'm sure you would have no problem at all passing the test for accreditation at professional level. From time to time I have seen writings by other NAATI accredited translators and some of them do not express themselves well and there are mistakes even in their marketing materials to promote their business. NAATI received a lot of complaints from translation clients about... See more
Hi Annett, I'm a NAATI accredited professional translator and I was accredited over 10 years ago. From reading your writing, I'm sure you would have no problem at all passing the test for accreditation at professional level. From time to time I have seen writings by other NAATI accredited translators and some of them do not express themselves well and there are mistakes even in their marketing materials to promote their business. NAATI received a lot of complaints from translation clients about the quality of the translation prepared by NAATI accredited translators, that's why NAATI decided to impose a requirement that its members must renew memberships every two years after satisfying some requirements.

I don't know about your language pair, but with my language pair, it is difficult to make a living on translation alone. I have seen a number of my fellow NAATI accredited translators giving up translation and taking on some other jobs.
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Annett Roessner  Identity Verified
אוסטרליה
Local time: 10:37
חבר (2017)
מאנגלית לגרמנית
TOPIC STARTER
NAATI Jul 12, 2014

Hi He-Li

Thank you very much for your response.
I'm not so sure about passing NAATI, as from what I have heard the examiners are really petty and mark you down for the slightest errors, e.g., commas in the wrong place or even if they deem a different word more appropriate.

I have no issues speaking, understanding and writing in English, I am actually more concerned about translating English into meaningful, elegant and perfect German. lol

The new NAA
... See more
Hi He-Li

Thank you very much for your response.
I'm not so sure about passing NAATI, as from what I have heard the examiners are really petty and mark you down for the slightest errors, e.g., commas in the wrong place or even if they deem a different word more appropriate.

I have no issues speaking, understanding and writing in English, I am actually more concerned about translating English into meaningful, elegant and perfect German. lol

The new NAATI rules around revalidation of membership sounds more like a money grab to me than actually being helpful in ensuring Translators and Interpreters have the right skills.

I will post another posting in the Aussie forum here as I'm looking into obtaining some type of formal qualification as suggested by another poster, before sitting the test and would love to hear some feedback and advise from others.

Cheers

Annett
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Phil Hand  Identity Verified
סין
Local time: 08:37
מסינית לאנגלית
Thinking the right way Jul 14, 2014

Annett Roessner wrote:

...I am actually more concerned about translating English into meaningful, elegant and perfect German. lol

That's the right thing to be worried about! A friend of mine, who has a full time job translating political stuff in China, sent me this in an email:

"...But in translation you actually do need to be able to "command" those words and sentences to fit around the source, in both spirit and form... Being a good writer isn’t enough - good writers often excel at a certain type or style of writing. But with translation your need to be able to do it all. And then you've got accuracy and faithfulness to worry about."

To be a good translator - on the "profession" side, as Sheila puts it - you need to be thinking about the fact that a translator is first and foremost a professional writer. Not just a good writer, a professional writer.

To provide a counterbalance to He Li's opinion above: there are plenty of us who do make enough money to live on. Not merchant banker style money, but a solid middle class income (if such a phrase still has meaning!). And as I understand it, your language pair is still quite well paid. Good luck!


 


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